Crazy Rich Asians

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Crazy Rich Asians
Author Kevin Kwan
Language English
Genre Novel
Publication date
2013
Media type Print
ISBN 978-0-385-53697-4
Followed by China Rich Girlfriend

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan. The novel became a best seller and was followed by the sequel China Rich Girlfriend in 2015 and Rich People Problems in 2017.

Kwan stated that his intention in writing the novel was to "introduce a contemporary Asia to a North American audience."[1] He claimed the novel was loosely based on his own childhood in Singapore.[2] A film adaptation of the novel will be helmed by director Jon M. Chu, and is set to be released August 15, 2018.

Plot[edit]

The book is told from the perspective of five main characters: Rachel Chu, Nicholas (Nick) Young, Eleanor Young, Astrid Leong, and Edison Cheng. The story revolves around the grand wedding between Singapore's most eligible bachelor, Colin Khoo, and a fashion icon, Araminta Lee which everyone calls the wedding of the year.

Rachel is a New York University (NYU) professor of economics who is from Cupertino, California. She was raised by her single mother and leads a typical middle-class life. When her boyfriend, Nicholas Young takes her to meet his family in Singapore, she is completely unaware of what is in store for her.

Nick is also a professor at the same university as his girlfriend, Rachel. Although he grew up in London, he is originally from Singapore. Unknown to anyone in New York, he not only belongs to one of the top ten wealthiest families in Asia but is possibly sole heir to his family's great fortune. Despite this wealth, he was raised to be humble and to keep a low profile. Because of his upbringing, he is confident his family will approve of his simple girlfriend, but things turn out very differently than he had expected.

Eleanor Young is Nick's controlling mother who is obsessed with prestige and pride. Since Nick was born, she has allowed her mother-in-law, the Young family matriarch to practically raise her only child, so that, when the time comes, she will leave the family fortune to him. As a result, Eleanor is not very much involved in Nick's upbringing and is even separated from his father, who chooses to live and work in Australia to manage their family's businesses there. She is also very adamant that Nick marry someone from the close-knit, rich circle of her friends and plans to sabotage Nick and Rachel's relationship. She hires a private detective and goes to China to gather information on Rachel's family, which she later attempts to use to drive Rachel out of Nick's life, but ultimately results in her son freezing her out of his life. Rachel is shocked when she learns who her father, Zhou Fang Min, is and leaves to stay with her friend, Peik Lin, and her family.

Astrid Teo is Nick's famous cousin whose beauty is well-known all across Asia. Although she maintains a positive image to her family and society, her marriage is suffering. Michael, her long-suffering husband, is a self-made young man who is looked down upon because he does not come from money. Astrid discovers that he might be having an affair with someone in Hong Kong, when she confronts him, Michael admits to having an affair and leaves. With the help of her ex-fiancée Charlie Wu, Astrid confronts him again in Hong Kong where he reveals that he has in fact, not been having an affair and has only made it seem like he had so that she would want to divorce him, being no longer able to deal with Astrid's family. In a last ditch effort to help save their marriage and make Astrid happy, Charlie secretly buys shares in Michael's startup company at a highly inflated price.

Edison Cheng is Nick's spoiled Hong Kong cousin who works as a banker. He is one of the few members of his clan who lives up to his birthright as a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world. He wants to impress all his friends and relatives at the wedding, but his plans fall short because of his family, particularly his younger brother Alistair who is dating Kitty Pong, a starlet of questionable background and intentions. Alistair and Kitty are briefly engaged but she leaves him for Bernard Tai, a billionaire's son after being led to believe that the Chengs are not as rich as she believed.

Rachel and Nick suffer a falling out with each other. Nick tries to convince her to stay in the relationship with him, professing that he no longer cares about what society and his family expects from him. Rachel doesn't believe him claiming that no matter how much they try to ignore his family's legacy, they know they may not be able to. She tells Nick that she want her children to grow up treasured and loved by their relatives like her own family has done, not be raised with a family whose primary concern is their own wealth, family legacy and the kinds of rich people they know. Rachel breaks up with him as a result and Nick realizes she's lost to him. Depressed, he stays at Colin's house for a while. At the Goh house, Rachel calls her mother, Kerry, and suffers a falling out with her. She demanded to know why Kerry didn't tell her about Fang Min being her father. When Kerry tries to explain that he was abusive and had to save her life, Rachel blames her for her actions and hangs up the phone.

While staying at Colin's house, Nick regretted bringing Rachel to Singapore without giving her an insight in how to deal with his wealthy family. Instead of his family liking Rachel, they successfully turned her against Nick that lead to their eventual break up. He mentions this to Colin along with his thoughts of letting Rachel go. However, he suggests that Nick fight for Rachel and does one thing to win her back. As Rachel and Peik Lin are preparing to leave to meet her father who is imprisoned in China, Nick stops them from leaving, revealing that he's brought the one thing from China to her. To Rachel's anger, it's her own mother that he brought to Singapore. Annoyed with Nick for preventing her one chance of meeting her father, Rachel tells Kerry off that she doesn't want to see her again and just let her meet her father. In desperation, Kerry finally reveals the truth about her real father: it isn't Fang Min, but a man nicknamed Kao Wei. Rachel decides to listen to her mother and learned about the abuse she went through including how Kao Wei saved her life by helping her escape to America where she stayed with her relatives. Upon realizing how abusive Fang Min was to Kerry, Rachel is remorseful for her earlier behavior reconciles with her mother. Nick and Peik Lin taking her and Kerry out for some satay.

Characters[edit]

  • Rachel Chu: A Stanford-educated American of Chinese descent who is an economics professor at New York University. She did not have a father and was raised by her mother, an immigrant from China.
  • Kerry Chu: Rachel's single mother, a real estate agent in Cupertino, who immigrated from China to the United States.
  • Nicholas "Nick" Young: Rachel's boyfriend, who is a history professor at New York University as well. He currently lives with Rachel in New York City, but is originally from Singapore and hails from a rich, but very secretive family.
  • Eleanor Young (née Sung): Nick's controlling mother who disapproves of Rachel. She is revered by her friends and many people her age for becoming Mrs. Philip Young. She has spent most her adult life trying to place Nick as Su Yi's favorite grandson. In "China Rich Girlfriend", it's revealed that Eleanor actually liked Rachel, but pretended not to do so in order to protect her from Su Yi due to a similar incident she endured as the disliked daughter-in-law.
  • Philip Young: Nick's laid-back engineer father who lives in Sydney. He is Su Yi's only son and is therefore expected to inherit Tysersall Park.
  • Astrid Teo (née Leong): Nick's fashionable cousin who is referred to as "the Goddess" and is known for her beauty and impeccable fashion sense. Her old-moneyed Peranakan family, the Leongs, are implied to be even richer than the Youngs.
  • Shang Su Yi: Nick's wealthy grandmother who, along with her brother Alfred Shang, inherited the fortune from her father, Shang Loong Ma. Su Yi owns the largest single piece of private real estate in Singapore with a palace-like mansion called Tysersall Park where she has lived most of her life. Her late husband was Sir James Young, a doctor. She doesn't approve of Rachel and Eleanor
  • Felicity Leong (née Young): Astrid's mother and Su Yi's eldest child. She married Henry "Harry" Leong Sr. and has three other children: Henry Leong Jr., Dr. Peter Leong, and Alexander Leong.
  • Victoria Young: Su Yi's second youngest child who has not married and is the only family member, besides her mother, who still lives at Tyersall Park.
  • Alexandra "Alix" Cheng (née Young): Su Yi's youngest child who married a world-renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Malcolm Cheng. She and her husband are in constant worry for their children, especially their oldest, Eddie.
  • Edison "Eddie" Cheng: Nick's private banker cousin who wants his family to have a picture perfect life. Despite having wealthy parents, with his father being one of the world's renowned heart surgeons, and his mother coming from the wealthy, aristocratic Youngs and creating his family's massive fortune in real estate, they live a humble lifestyle, something that Eddie is ashamed of.
  • Fiona Cheng (née Tung) : Eddie's wife who comes from an old-money family in Hong Kong. Unlike her husband, Eddie, she does not care what others think of her or her family.
  • Alistair Cheng: Eddie's brother who's involved in the Hong Kong movie business. He is dating a soap opera star, Kitty Pong, whom later umps him believing he's not as rich as his family members are.
  • Kitty Pong: A gold-digging soap opera star who is dating Alistair. When she broke up with Alistair for Bernard and married him in "China Rich Girlfriend", Kitty ends up shunned by everyone for humiliating Alistair's family along with appearing in the tabloids.
  • Goh Peik Lin: Rachel's bubbly, generous, outspoken, and shopaholic old friend from Stanford who comes from a rich Singaporean family who owns a property development and construction company.
  • Colin Khoo: Nick's best friend and Astrid's cousin, whose family is one of the richest in the world. His wedding to Araminta Lee is the most talked-about wedding in all of eastern Asia. His mother, who died years ago, was a Leong.
  • Sophie Khoo: Colin's sister and also Astrid's cousin who works as a pediatric surgeon and befriends Rachel. She is sent by Astrid to look out for Rachel at Araminta's bachelorette party.
  • Araminta Lee: Colin's fiancée who befriends Rachel. She is Singapore's most celebrated fashion icon, who once modeled for famous designers like Alexander McQueen, whose father is one of China's richest men and whose mother owns a luxury hotel chain.
  • Jacqueline Ling: Su-Yi's goddaughter and a close family friend to the Shangs, Youngs, and T'siens. She is the granddaughter of philanthropist Ling Yin Chao.
  • Oliver T'sien: Nick's cousin who works for Christie's in London.
  • Cassandra Shang: Nick's gossipy second cousin who seems to know everything about everyone, earning her the nickname, "Radio One Asia".
  • Carol Tai: A devout Christian who's also the wife of a corrupt billionaire, Dato' Tai Toh Lui. She is one of Eleanor's best friends.
  • Bernard Tai: Carol's son and also Nick and Colin's former classmate. He is very spoiled by his father.
  • Francesca Shaw: The heiress of her family's company, Shaw Foods. She is Nick's vain, snobbish, and socialite ex-girlfriend who doesn't like Rachel. Her mother, Nadine, is also good friends with Eleanor.
  • Michael Teo: Astrid's ex-army husband who owns a start-up company.
  • Charlie Wu: Astrid's tech billionaire ex-fiancé who still has feelings for her despite being married to someone else. Astrid's parents disapprove of him because he does not come from an old-money family like her.

The Young, T'sien, and Shang Clan[edit]

Shang Su Yi's father, Shang Loong Ma, started a shipping company in Beijing and then emigrated to Singapore with his multiple wives and children. Although he had six children, he only formally accepted three: Alexander (Ah Jit), Su Yi, and Alfred. Shang Loong Ma arranged for his daughter to marry Sir James Young, who was a doctor. He also arranged for Sir James' sister, Rosemary, to marry T'sien Tsay Tay. T'sien Tsay Tay's oldest daughter was then promised to Alfred. Shang Su Yi and Sir James Young had five children: Felicity, Catherine, Philip, Victoria, and Alexandra. T'sien Tsay Tay and Rosemary Young had five children as well: Mabel, Richard "Dickie", Mark, Anna May, and Clarence. Alfred Shang and Mabel T'sien had four children: Leonard, Charles, Frederick, and Cassandra. Alexander (Ah Jit) died as a young man with no heirs.

In the book, a huge amount of respect and admiration is shown to the Youngs, Shangs, and T'siens primarily due to their wealth and prestige as one of the oldest wealthy families in Singapore and Asia.

Reception[edit]

The novel received positive reviews internationally from sources including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Independent.[3][4][5][6][7] Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote of the novel, "Mr. Kwan knows how to deliver guilty pleasures. He keeps the repartee nicely outrageous, the excess wretched and the details wickedly delectable."[8]

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation of the 2013 novel is being directed by Jon M. Chu under Warner Bros. Pictures. Filming began in April 2017. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set for release on August 17, 2018.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Govani, Shinan (July 7, 2015). "How 'Crazy Rich Asians' Splash Their Cash". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Christensen, Lauren. "Crazy Rich Asians Author Kevin Kwan on the Lavish Culture of Asia's Upper Crust: "The Reality Is Simply Unbelievable"". Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Christensen, Lauren. "Crazy Rich Asians Author Kevin Kwan on the Lavish Culture of Asia's Upper Crust: "The Reality Is Simply Unbelievable"". Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  4. ^ Chung, Candice. "An insider's guide to Crazy Rich Asians". Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Govani, Shinan. "Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Walsh, S. Kirk. "'Crazy Rich Asians' by Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Sanai, Leyla. "Crazy Rich Asians, By Kevin Kwan: Book review". Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet. "A Family Blinded by Bling and Fancy Designer Names". Retrieved 10 April 2016. 
  9. ^ "Everything You Need to Know About the Crazy Rich Asians Movie". Cosmopolitan. 2018-04-23. Retrieved 2018-04-24.